UPDATE: Since publishing, it’s been announced that this store will close in March 2022.
Two years ago, we checked in on two Sears stores around Christmas in 2019. We skipped last year but we are back at it this year. The difficulty, first, is to find a Sears store. As we have documented, there are less than 30 full-line Sears stores remaining in the United States. The Rockaway, New Jersey location we praised in 2019 as being a more lively Sears relative to other locations is long gone.
This year, we visited the last remaining Sears store in the state of Pennsylvania. The Sears in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, located in the Philadelphia suburbs in the Willow Grove Park Mall, originally opened in 1987. We visited the store roughly a week before the Black Friday shopping holiday 2021 and this was most certainly the most empty non-liquidating Sears I have ever seen. The store, previously three floors, was changed to a single floor after the retailer Primark began to sublet the second and third floors in 2016.
As the Philadelphia Inquirer succinctly put it in a recent headline, ‘there’s hardly anything in there’. I think that best sums up our visit to the Willow Grove, Pennsylvania Sears store. Unlike other locations we’ve visited this year, such as the Greensboro, North Carolina store, this store is so empty that you almost feel self-conscious and weird being inside of it. It appeared to have only one maybe two employees on the floor. The main inventory it had was appliances, a small amount of men’s and women’s clothing, patio furniture, an odd assortment of exercise equipment, an air hockey table, a few tools, linens, and kitchen supplies. There were basically no customers and in the 30-45 minutes I spent there I saw no one make any purchase or engage with a store employee.
It’s hard to tell how long this store will last, but based on the looks of it probably not long. The newly formed post-bankruptcy parent company of Sears stores, Transform Co, seems more focused on leveraging the store real estate for profits which will likely be the ultimate fate of this location. Enjoy our journey below in the photos and video!